Earlier this month I was invited by my Jewish congregation to write a poem inspired by the section of the Bible that includes the Ten Commandments. I was struck by the fact that just before Moses receives these crucial instructions from God, his wife, Zipporah, returns from being away. Not much is said about her in the text, but it got me thinking about how Moses’ love for her might have been central to what he was able to do as a spiritual and temporal leader of his people.


Moses drifted awake, feeling her skin on his:
A rush of gratitude, thanksgiving
Zipporah: home again

A silvery shimmering
Rippled like waves through his mind
Adonai:  God is here, with us

He opened his eyes and saw her
Her face serene in sleep
Her thick black hair and long, slender limbs

A vision came of all the fighting
He must tell them not to do
All the stealing and the lying and the strife

A vision, too, of how he’d do it:
Others could hear the minor disputes
They’d organize the workweek, take the Sabbath off…

With her home, he could figure out anything

He stroked her shoulder, and she murmured, nestling closer
Just one more thing, he heard in her voice, though she slept
Do not covet what thy neighbor has; rejoice in what is yours

Her eyes opened, and he knew
The others could wait to hear the news
While he found his revelation in her kiss

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